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Michigan (7-5) vs. Kansas State (7-5)



Saturday, December 28, 10:15 p.m. (et)

The Sports Network

By Brandon Lawrence, Associate College Football Editor

GAME NOTES: The Michigan Wolverines take a two-game losing skid into the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl on Saturday, Dec. 28, where they'll meet up with the Kansas State Wildcats.

Brady Hoke's Wolverines are 7-5 on the season, but have lost four of their last five matchups. The one win in that five-game span was a triple overtime edging of Northwestern, 27-19, at home. Their most recent game against Ohio State was a one-point loss at home to the third-ranked Buckeyes, 42-41.

Kansas State, on the other hand, has won five of its last six, including a trouncing of 25th-ranked Texas Tech, 49-26. Bill Snyder's Wildcats have only lost once, to Oklahoma (41-31), since Oct. 26. Kansas State is also 7-5 on the season after the team lost four of its first six games.

It's the first-ever meeting between Michigan and Kansas State. It will also mark the first game for Michigan against a Big 12 program this season, and the first Big Ten team Kansas State has faced this season.

Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner, who started all 12 games for the Wolverines this season, could miss the bowl game as he is nursing a foot injury. Gardner was solid in 12 games this season, completing 208-of-345 pass attempts for 2,960 yards and 21 touchdowns with 11 interceptions. Gardner ranks 31st in the FBS in passer efficiency with a 146.1 rating. If Gardner is unable to suit up, the team will be in the hands of freshman Shane Morris.

Regardless of who is throwing the ball, the go-to target is Jeremy Gallon, who caught 80 passes this season - 33 more than the second leading receiver on the Wolverines. Gallon amassed 1,284 receiving yards and nine touchdown grabs, averaging 107 yards per game.

Running back Fitzgerald Toussaint gives the Wolverines another dimension on offense, despite his low rushing average. Toussaint carried the ball 183 times this season and gained 646 yards on the ground - averaging 58.7 rushing yards per game - but scored 12 touchdowns. Gardner helped the Michigan offense with his legs as well, rushing for 483 yards and 11 touchdowns.

As a team, Michigan outscored its opponents 405-318 this season, averaging 33.8 points per game, good for 37th in the FBS.

Defensively, the Wolverines were led by defensive back Raymon Taylor and linebacker James Ross III. Both players recorded 81 total tackles, although Ross played in one fewer game than Taylor. Ross, who is questionable to play in the game with an undisclosed injury, also recorded five tackles for loss, two pass breakups, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Taylor led the Michigan defense with nine pass breakups and had four interceptions in 12 games.

The Wolverines ranked 38th in the FBS defensively, giving up an average of 367.4 yards per game. Keeping opponents out of the end zone is where the Wolverines struggled a bit. Michigan was 64th in the country in scoring defense, giving up an average of 26.5 points per game.

Defensive end Frank Clark was the team leader in tackles for loss (12), sacks (4.5) and quarterback hurries (7).

This is Hoke's third bowl game as head of the Michigan program. He's 1-1 with an overtime win in the 2012 Sugar Bowl, and a loss last season in the Outback Bowl. Michigan is 20-21 all-time in its bowl history.

"We are excited to represent the Big Ten Conference in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl and to face a challenging Big 12 Conference opponent in Kansas State," Hoke said. "This is a great opportunity for Team 134, and we relish the chance to play one of college football's most successful programs."

Kansas State finished right behind Michigan in scoring offense this season in the national rankings, averaging 33.4 points per game in the team's 12 games played. The Wildcats operated with two quarterbacks that were both adept at passing and running the football.

Junior Jake Waters completed 138-of-233 pass attempts in 12 games for 2,198 yards, 15 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Sophomore Daniel Sims also played in 12 games, and served more of a rushing purpose. Sims attempted just 52 passes all season, but carried the ball 148 times for 784 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Senior running back John Hubert led the team in carries with 182, gaining 968 yards on the ground with nine touchdowns.

The most consistent receiver for the Wildcats was Tyler Lockett, who hauled in 71 receptions in 11 games played, for 1,146 yards and eight scores.

Although Kansas State's offense was ranked just behind Michigan's in terms of points per game, the Wildcats' defense can be found just slightly ahead of the Wolverines' in total defense. Kansas State allowed 367 yards per game to opponents this season.

Senior linebacker Blake Slaughter led the team in total tackles with 103, while also notching three sacks, an interception, three pass breakups, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Defensive end Ryan Mueller dominated opponents' backfields, as the junior recorded 11.5 sacks and 18 tackles for loss. The Wildcats are 36th in the country with a 23.7 points against average.

Snyder knows the importance of playing in a bowl game, and said his team obviously wants to win badly. But going up against Michigan is always a tough assignment.

"No. 1, it is just Michigan," Snyder said. "I know there is talk about trying to get back to the `old Michigan,' and it is evident. You can see it on tape. I was at Iowa for 10 years and when Bo Schembechler was at Michigan, we played them every single year and I know what that is like. They are a very physical football team. They are a team that will beat you with fundamentals and execution and toughness. They are moving in the direction that they are wanting to move in, and I think that is very, very positive."

Michigan isn't quite there yet and with Gardner likely sidelined, the Wolverines may have a tough time keeping up with the Wildcats.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Kansas State 32, Michigan 27

12/25 09:25:55 ET

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Scoreboard
Local
Final
UVA 27
UNC 28
Final
NCCU 42
SAVST 14
 
1:00pm Today
CAR
SEA
Final
SFG 11
KAN 4
8:07pm Tonight
SFG
KAN
 
Final
WISC 52
MD 7
Final
SMU 10
MEM 48
Final
ILL 28
MINN 24
Final
RICE 41
UNT 21
Final
NEB 42
RUTG 24
Final
KST 23
TEX 0
Final
ARK 45
UAB 17
Final
UVA 27
UNC 28
Final
EMICH 17
NILL 28
Final
NAVY 41
SJST 31
Final
BST 35
AKR 21
Final
GASTATE 31
GASO 69
Final
TOL 42
UMASS 35
Final
WMICH 42
OHIO 21
Final
COL 37
UCLA 40
Final
UMO 10
KSU 3
Final
WAKE 17
BC 23
Final
BUF 14
CMICH 20
Final
MARS 35
FATL 16
Final
PITT 28
GT 56
Final
SMISS 20
LATU 31
Final
MSU 35
MICH 11
Final
KENT 31
MSST 45
Final
STAN 38
ORST 14
Final
TCU 82
TTU 27
Final
OKST 10
WVU 34
Final
WKENT 66
ODU 51
Final
UTST 34
UNLV 20
Final
MIZZ 24
VANDY 14
Final
UCF 34
TEMPL 14
Final
WASU 37
ARZ 59
Final
CLEM 16
SYR 6
Final
LAMON 18
TXST 22
Final
TXSANANTO 0
UTEP 34
Final
COLST 45
WYO 31
Final
LSU 10
MISS 7
Final
TENN 20
ALA 34
Final
AUB 42
SCAR 35
Final
PSU 24
OSU 31
 
4th
UTAH 17
USC 14
 
3rd
WASH 0
ARST 10
 
2nd
HAW 7
NEV 0
 
Final
SJS 1
BUF 2
Final
TOR 1
BOS 4
Final
NYI 7
DAL 5
Final
PHI 4
DET 2
Final
OTT 2
NJD 3
Final
MON 3
NYR 1
Final
STL 3
CHI 2
Final
NAS 0
PIT 3
Final
MIN 7
TAM 2
Final
ARI 2
FLA 1
Final
CAL 1
WAS 3
 
3:00pm Today
WIN
COL
 
4:00pm Today
LOS
CLB
 
7:00pm Tonight
CHI
OTT
 
8:00pm Tonight
ANA
SJS
 
9:30pm Tonight
VAN
WAS
 
9:30am Today
ATL
DET
1:00pm Today
CIN
BAL
1:00pm Today
NYJ
BUF
1:00pm Today
NEP
CHI
1:00pm Today
TEN
HOU
1:00pm Today
JAC
MIA
1:00pm Today
TAM
MIN
1:00pm Today
CAR
SEA
1:00pm Today
KAN
STL
4:05pm Today
ARI
PHI
4:25pm Today
PIT
IND
4:25pm Today
CLE
OAK
8:30pm Tonight
NOS
GBP
Final
NCCU 42
SAVST 14